What is Lead Generation? Definition and Meaning
Generate leads, i.e. contacts of potential customers: this is the meaning of Lead Generation, literally "generation", acquisition of "leads", or contacts.
Lead generation can be considered one of the two main (macro or micro) conversion goals of an online business. If you think about it, generalizing, companies :
- sell products
- sell services
In the second case, the web marketing objective of a company will be precisely the lead generation. Attention, however: with the sale of "services" we mean everything that can not be sold directly on the page of your site, whether it is a landing page or a page from a ecommerce and requires the contact of the user, who can then complete the purchase outside of the site and not within it, as is the case in a site ecommerce selling products.
Okay, but what what is a lead? We have defined it as the contact of a potential customer. Well, this contact can be a simple email, or an email and a phone number, or even a collection of various information about your potential customer.
In this post we will try to cover the topic of lead generation in a comprehensive manner, going over 2 main points:
- the 3 phases of the process that articulate a lead generation for the acquisition of contacts;
- 3 tools to facilitate your lead generation initiatives.
Let's start with the first one, which is trying to figure out together How the whole process of lead generation works.
According to a study by Ascend2.com, Among the biggest obstacles for a company that wants to do lead generation in the first place stands out the absence of a strategy appropriate:
Our first step will be to define the most appropriate strategy for effective lead generation. But to do that let's take a look at the process of acquiring a lead.
The process that articulates a lead generation strategy can be represented by a figure similar to a funnelwhich is called in technical terms not by chance funnel (English translation of funnel).
The funnelor funnel, metaphorically represents the process of the user in a lead generation, since we appear to him with our advertisement of Google Ads o Facebook Advertising until the final conversion.
This is how it can be represented:
The first phase is lead acquisition. This is done through 2 means: an advertisement that grabs the lead's attention and makes them click e, if the lead is coldan offer, a "bargaining chip", called lead magnet, That prompts the user to enter their contact information and enter the funnel.
The second phase is communication: in this phase we will have to communicate with our lead:
- if far from conversion, "cold"), "feed it" with a series of communications called precisely lead nurturing. It's about quality content, aimed at creating an initial "rapport"This is a first virtual acquaintance, to convey credibility in view of the offer and to avoid a cold sale.
- if closer to conversion, i.e. when you leave your details for a request for a quote, a DEMO or an appointment, by calling him back as soon as possible: the speed of contact, the "lead response time" is fundamental in this case.
In the third phase, once the unknown of the cold sale has been overcome, the contact will be "hot" enough to consider an offer and perhaps convertthen buy the product or service.
Let's go over these 3 steps in detail.
The 3 phases of an effective lead generation strategy
Phase 1: Acquisition
The phase consists of 3 steps.
- target definitionThat is, the characteristics that your leads will have;
- definition of the most appropriate web marketing tool to intercept it (typically organic traffic from the perspective of business SEOInbound Marketing or traffic from online advertising tools such as Facebook Ads,, Google ADS, Linkedin ADS);
- creation of the landing page with relative lead magnet, if necessary.
Define the target
In the first phase we have no contacts of potential customers. The first thing to do will therefore be:
- Define the target audience of people we want to bring into our funnel;
- define the best activities to acquire them.
Let's start with the target audience: what characteristics does your potential customer have? That's the first question you need to answer. You can define features in various ways, such as by:
- sex: male or female;
- place of residence;
A good way to define the target audience of your leads is to use character analysis or buyer personas, which are models, archetypes of your potential client, created precisely according to their characteristics.
Once you've defined your target audience, you need to move on to the second part of this first phase: understanding which web marketing tools are best suited to intercept your leads.
Define the most appropriate tools
Which web marketing tools are best suited to appear to your target audience? To put it bluntly, in web marketing not everything goes to waste.
That is: if your target is made of professionals, so you operate in B2B, probably a good choice for lead acquisition could be Linkedin ADSor Content Marketing, which is the writing of technical guides and articles for your potential customers.
Here's a roundup of tools you can use, depending on your target audience, to generate leads:
- Linkedin Ads: the linkedin advertising program, which we talked about in depth in this article: LinkedIn Ads: Complete Guide to Marketing and Advertising on LinkedInIt is suitable for professionals and businesses. In addition, according to a study by Hubspot, Linkedin is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.
- Facebook Advertising: Facebook advertising program is suitable for leads in B2C and B2B sector (in my experience better for small business);
- Google Ads: for your lead generation campaigns you can use the Search Network in order to intercept the informed question.
- Banner advertising and DEM: your audience is very specific, for example belongs to the food sector? Well, you could ask to a site, blog, or forum of the field to publish on his site a banner directed to your landing page or to send a newsletter to its members. The advantage? You can be noticed by a target audience without appearing to be a spammer, because it is presented by a site that subscribers trust, having subscribed to it.
These are just a few of the possible web marketing methods to generate targeted leads. To choose the one that best suits your industry you need to:
- first define your target audience and understand with which tools it is easier to acquire leads;
- then test them, and understand which of these tools allow you to generate more conversions (leads) at a lower cost.
But what do the statistics say? What are the most effective ways to collect leads?
Ascend2.com has carried out an analysis of the most effective tools for lead generation, where the top places stand out:
- email marketing;
- landing page and website;
- content marketing;
Create landing pages and the lead magnet
Let's recap the steps we've seen so far:
- we defined the characteristics of our future lead;
- we defined the most appropriate web marketing tools to present our proposal;
In the third step of this first phase, aimed at generating the lead, we need to create the landing page and the lead magnet.
The landing page
The landing page is, as the name implies, the "landing page" of our visitor once they have clicked on the advertisement.
I won't go into detail about how a landing page must be made to optimize the chances that our visitor becomes a lead and enters the purchase funnel, but let's see some important aspects anyway.
1. Stay consistent
If you promise in your ad to let people download a guide to the 7 best ways to generate leads, when the user lands on your landing page they should find the same promise in plain sight: Want proof?
A A/B testing performed by California Closets resulted in an increase of 115% in the conversion rate simply by maintaining consistency between the pay per click advertisement and the landing page:
If the title of your Google Ads ad is "Want to improve your conversion rate by 30%" then your headline should fulfill this promiseotherwise your visitor will feel disoriented.
A software that allows you to automate this process is Unbouncea well-known tool for the creation of Landing Pages, thanks to a feature that allows you to dynamically create the title of the landing page related to the Ads, so as to increase the consistency between ad and headline:
2. Take care of your headline
The headline is the first thing the user sees once they enter your landing page: not only that, it's also what will make them decide whether to stay on your page or leave. Statistics confirm that
- 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the article
- but an effective headline can increase the effectiveness of your content up to 500% e
- is able to increase the conversion rate of a site even by 40%.
It is absolutely essential that your headline, i.e. the phrase that presents your product or expresses the need it solves, is effective, as well as consistent with your advertising campaign: in this regard, I refer you to the article:
Headline: 12 Techniques to Increase Clicks, Shares and Conversions
3. Optimize your contact form
How much data will you require from your visitors? Just the email? Name and email? Anything else? There is no unique answer, or rather I suggest you to only ask for information that is strictly functional to your purpose. Here are some other suggestions:
- the less information you ask for, the more leads you acquireStatistics confirm that as the amount of data requested increases, the number of contact forms filled out decreases. It's common sense, isn't it? If you were faced with a contact form with 16 fields to fill out would you do it? You probably wouldn't complete it.
- if you really need to ask your lead for a lot of information, ask in 2 stepsIt's statistically proven that splitting your contact form into 2 parts gives you a higher chance of filling it out. The reason? Maybe because, according to Cialdini's rule of engagement and consistency (which you can learn more about in this post: Cialdini's 6 Weapons of Persuasion and how to use them in Web Marketing) people who have started a contact form tend to finish it, but don't let the excessive length scare them off.
- Third tip: Place your contact form at the top and on the same page.
You can learn more about techniques to optimize your contact form in this article:
10 Strategies (+ 3 Tools) to Improve Your Contact Form (and Get + Customers)
The lead magnet
Once you've taken care of your landing page, in case you need to, that is, if you're in the presence of cold leads, you need to devise what to give your visitor in return for them to become leads and leave your contact information. In other words you need an offer, a bargaining chip that "attracts", like a magnet, your lead.
Why, isn't it enough to just tell them "sign up for the newsletter"? It may be, but the effectiveness of this lead generation tool is low. So you need a strong motivation to make the visitor of your landing page become a lead. Let's take a few examples:
- a training product: whether it's an ebook, a video, this lead magnet is the typical choice for those who have a blog or an online editorial header and want to increase the number of emails for their newsletter.
- a second possible way of lead magnet, if you have for example an ecommerce, is a voucher for the first purchase, like Zalando does:
- webinar: Signing up for a webinar is a great way to generate leads from potential customers, while also conveying credibility. According to market research published in On24, the webinar is an effective lead generation strategy for the 51% of B2B marketers:
A personalized lead magnet
Do you want to know a simple method that allows you to exponentially increase lead generation? Make a lead magnet themed with your page.
Let me explain.
Let's assume you have a blog: visitors enter your Page from different pages, maybe through long tail keywords (by the way, have you read the article Long tail: how to increase visitors with long tail keywords?).
The search intent is clear: those who enter the site want to discover ways to earn money online. We can try to get the user's lead by offering a generic video series, an ebook on web marketing, and so on, and being a related field, the visitor is likely to be interested.
Making a match between demand (expressed by the content of the article) and supply (expressed by the lead magnet, i.e. what we offer in return to generate the lead) is not enough: you need the right tool.
The most effective tool to do this seems to be to insert a fcoloured orm located in several places within the article, which allows you to download an upgrade of the article contentYou can create it with a tool like Optin Monster.
The important thing is that what you give in return for the lead is strictly consistent with the content on the page where it is located. Here's an example at Backlinko.com:
Phase 2: Contact & Lead Nurturing
Okay, so our potential customer was drawn to our advertisement, came to our landing page, filled out the contact form and officially became our lead.
The first phase of our lead generation strategy is over: now we move on to phase 2, where we will have to communicate to the lead, with a strategy called Lead Nurturing.
For this phase you need a tool that automates the sending of your emails, with a workflow of email marketing automation such as SendinBlue.
Once you have created the sequence, you need to define an editorial line for your emails. At this stage your goal is not to sell, but:
- communicate with a user who, having entered your site, is not yet ready to buy your product or service, maybe because he has to think about it, does not trust ...
- to build a relationship, communicate credibility, awareness, thanks to the conveyance of valuable content and periodically, as we shall see, commercial offers;
At this point your communication consists of 4 steps:
- knowIt's the stage where you get in touch with your lead, who signs up for your newsletter in exchange for a lead magnet;
- likeis the stage where, through the delivery of quality content, generate awareness, credibility, enter into relationship and you start to like your recipient;
- truststarting to like it, You gain credibility from your lead;
- buy: only after you have created a relationship, gained credibility, will your lead be inclined to consider a purchase of your product or service:
The most classic and used strategy to communicate with your lead once acquired is toI send out a series of emails conveying valuable content. After a few such emails on a periodic basis, I can make a commercial offer:
This strategy is one of the most widely used: Content mails create a relationship with those who receive them, they convey credibility and awareness, which are essential for successfully proposing, in a non-bureaucratic way, a new product. spammy the commercial offer.
Step 3: Conversion
Once your lead is acquired (step 1) and "hot" (step 2) you can propose the sale, for example exploiting some persuasive rule like Cialdini's Scarcity, with a call to action like: Purchase by Friday at midnight.
Trivial, trite and rehashed ok. But the point is that if I had proposed it to the visitor of the site probably would have worked less. Do you know why?
Because in the meantime, thanks to the lead nurturing phase, you have made yourself known to your lead, you have increased credibility and trust. The sale from "cold" has become "hot", and then a simple application of a very used persuasive rule is "the straw that breaks the camel's back", which gives that push to your lead to convert.
Lead Generation goals in 2015: the Ascend2 study
What does the state of lead generation look like? "Lead Generation Strategy Trends," a research done by Ascend2.com, illustrates this for us.
What are the most important goals of an effective lead generation strategy? According to the research at the top are:
- improving the quality of leads;
- the increase in revenue from sales;
- increasing the number of leads;
3 effective tools for lead generation
SlideShare tools (Update: no longer available)
Did you know that you can collect the contact information of people who browse your slides on Slideshare? Here's how to use it
- link to the Lead Generation On Slideshare Page;
- upload your own slide;
- finally, customize your contact form as you like.
Keep in mind that the lead generation tool in Slideshare is paid and requires a budget of at least $25.
If Slideshare's lead generation tool allows you to collect various contact details at will, let's now look at 2 tools aimed mostly at email collection.
How to do lead generation with Videos: Turnstile by Wistia
Turnstile is a tool available to those who have an account with Wistia, a video hosting platform, that allows you to capture the email address and other data of those who are watching your video, simply asking them to enter the data if they want to continue watching:
The Bloom plugin
Bloom is a plugin created by Elegant Themes, famous for their themes for WordPress.
Bloom allows you to create pop up, inline, sidebar forms to collect your visitor's name and email address, providing you with a statistics system that allows you to understand the conversion rate of your contact forms, i.e. how many people fill out your contact form.
Although lead generation, as we have seen, is one of the main objectives of online marketing, the absence of an effective strategy and the use of unsuitable tools can compromise the final result. Lead generation is like an alchemy of ingredients where getting an ingredient wrong or the dose wrong can compromise the end result. How about you? What strategy and tools do you use for your lead generation initiatives? Let's talk about it in the comments!